Notes on a Scandal DVD Review
by Kam Williams
DVD Features Tawdry Triangle with Two Teachers and Student
Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), the new art teacher at a high school in London, finds herself soon befriended by Barbara Covett (Dame Judi Dench), a lonely colleague who happens to be a very repressed lesbian. Sheba's straight, though mired in a passionless marriage to a much older man (Bill Nighy), and burdened by a bratty daughter (Juno Temple) and a son (Max Lewis) with Down Syndrome.
As a consequence of this middle-age malaise, she embarks on a steamy, if sordid affair with Steven Connolly (Andrew Simpson), a 15 year-old student who makes her feel young again. All is fine and dandy till the day Barbara catches the couple in a compromising position.
Curiously, rather than report Sheba, she just lets Sheba know that she's aware of the adulterous affair, and orders that it end immediately in return for a promise to keep the indiscretion private. However, like the British version of Mary Kay Letourneau, the shameless hussy just can't get enough of her veritable Vili Fualaau.
Her kinky compulsion plays right into Barbara's hands, for the sixty-something spinster has an unrequited crush on Sheba, and is not above resorting to a thinly-veiled threat of blackmail as leverage for an intimate liaison. So unfolds Notes on a Scandal, as adapted from the perhaps more appropriately titled "What Was She Thinking?" the best-selling novel by Zoe Heller.
Judi Dench enjoys a juicy role, here, as the naughty narrator who gradually becomes hopelessly obsessed with the object of her affection. Cate Blanchett is almost as intriguing as a woman with needs willing to risk her family reputation for a little something on the side. Too bad Sheba's too blinded by lust to see that her latent confidante has a selfish Sappho agenda.
Excellent (3.5 stars)
Rated R for profanity and for aberrant sexual behavior.
Running time: 91 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director's commentary, interviews with Cate Blanchett and Bill Nighy, theatrical trailers, "Behind the Scenes" and several additional featurettes.
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